Early intervention for young people with mental health problems

Early intervention for young people with mental health problems

The world’s main cause of teenage illness is depression. Despite evidence that early intervention can improve outcomes for patients and generate cost savings, funding is not always available.

The world’s main cause of teenage illness is depression (WHO 2014) and it’s estimated that 1 in 10 young people experience mental health problems. There is evidence that early intervention can improve outcomes for patients, create better use of existing resources and generate cost savings. However, despite this evidence, funding is not always available.

There is currently unmet demand for early intervention mental health services for children and young people in Cambridge as statutory spending is directed at the moderate to severe end of mental health need. There are transitional issues for children, young people and families with multiple difficulties moving between services.

Two years ago, to address this local need, a group of doctors and psychologists established Cambridge Family Social Enterprise (CFSE). This non-profit making venture is the brainchild of Dr Ayla Humphrey, Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychologist; Dr Caroline Lea-Cox, GP with CATCH – the Cambridgeshire Association to Commission Health; Jane Ryder-Richardson, Educational Psychologist; and Professor Susan Gathercole, Director of the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. 

Cambridge Family Social Enterprise is developing a ‘holistic’ service that offers young people help with their emotional, behavioural, medical and developmental difficulties using evidence-based interventions. This service is provided wherever young people spend a significant part of their time, including in schools, at home and in GP surgeries. Through external, independent evaluation, they aim to demonstrate the clear economic, social and healthcare benefits of introducing this type of service. 

CFSE is currently exploring different funding options to develop its not-for-profit model, recognising the current economic climate and the constraints on public finances. At this critical stage in their development, CFSE is fortunate to have the expertise of Daniel Kleaman on their Board. Daniel is the director of Bridge Partners, a local IT company and he also has a background in advertising.

In 2014, vital funding from the Evelyn Trust enabled CFSE to work with RAND Europe and Social Enterprise UK to develop a business proposal. Further funding from the Evelyn Trust in 2015 will enable them to recruit a project manager to help them develop and implement their strategy and conduct market research with a range of public and voluntary sector stakeholders as well as service users.

“We are working hard to develop our future strategy with help from the Evelyn Trust, but their invaluable funding has also meant that the team can start providing a service in Cambridge city from September this year, bringing help to primary school children who are struggling because of mental health difficulties. Evaluation of this year’s work will help us to hone the efficacy of our approach and provide a foundation for our future development across Cambridge,” explains Dr Caroline Lea-Cox.

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